The social life of robots: The politics of algorithms, governance, and sovereignty

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Document Type

Contribution to a Book

Publication Title

Machine Learning and the City: Applications in Architecture and Urban Design


Silvio Carta

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In this chapter, the authors aim to broaden the way scholars theorise and empirically treat the increasingly complex relationships between robots and social life, especially in the context of our historically anthropocentric human geographies. They engage a range of diverse epistemological, ontological, and methodological commitments, but all in some way address the power dynamics and shifting political economies involved in human-robotic interactions as well as possibilities for resisting and overcoming particular forms of domination and oppression. The terrain of robots and robotics is interpreted to consist of the hardware and software that can be found in the materialities of robot bodies, and the algorithmic logics and machine learning capacities of new emerging digital technologies. Along with the rise of the robots comes a set of core questions geographers have begun to ask around the issue of algorithms and algorithmic life, geopolitical governance, and the future of sovereignty, be that political or technological.


Algorithmic logics, Anthropocentric human geographies, Geopolitical governance, Human-robotic interactions, Machine learning, Robotics, Social life, Sovereignty


Urban and Regional Planning